Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Giving Back

AARP Foundation

Help AARP Foundation win back opportunity for struggling Americans age 50 and over. Eighty-seven cents of every dollar spent goes directly to life-changing programs and services. Do

MOST POPULAR

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

Your Pet, Your Volunteer Partner

Teaming up can strengthen your bond while helping others.

Either the video service is temporarily unavailable or the requested video could not be retrieved. We apologize for the inconvenience.

En español | Pausing at the door to the hospital room, volunteer Mimi Weinstein was about to ask whether the patient inside wanted a visit when she noticed the woman was crying. "Are you all right?" Weinstein asked. "I can always come back later."

"No, no," the woman responded, inviting her in. "I'm just sad."

So Weinstein, 52, moved toward the bed. And with her went her dog, Tickles, 10 1/2. The composed, good-natured boxer began licking the patient's hand. She laughed.

She was still laughing when Weinstein and Tickles left. "There's no other treatment like that," Weinstein says, "where you can go from crying to laughing in a nanosecond."

Which is why Weinstein and Tickles visit patients at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, N.H., as often as three days a week. The sprawling facility keeps about a dozen dog-and-owner teams in its rotation of 600 volunteers — including smaller dogs, several golden retrievers, and a newly enlisted Great Dane. The volunteer Hug a Hound teams are a hit.

"Anything you can do to help a human being be happier is better for health," says Erin McMahon-Farnum, a registered nurse and services coordinator at the hospital.

Motivation

Weinstein's own deeply personal experience of how dogs interact with the very ill inspired her visits to DHMC with Tickles. Her daughter, Brianna, was diagnosed as a toddler with leukemia, and died 13 years ago, at age 12.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discount & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Anna's Linens

Member save 10% every day at Anna's Linens and AnnasLinens.com.

Faanui Bay, as seen from beach on Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Members save up to $525 on vacations at AARP® Travel Center powered by Expedia®

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular price menu items at Papa John's

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Community Volunteers

Honor Our Soldiers

Stop by to recognize those who have served our country, past and present. Discuss